Monday, March 18, 2013

BEING A GIRLY GEEK: PART ONE

Comic by Sailorswayze
I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is to be a geek girl. Lately around the webs, and actually for some time now there has been discussion about being a geek and more importantly being a girl geek. Now geeks come in all shapes and sizes as do the fandoms they are passionate about. Gone are the stereotypes of nerds who still live at home, aren’t so suave with the social aspects of society and where sometimes hygiene isn’t always a strong point. Being a geek has nothing to do with popularity. It’s about loving something. A lot.

As a kid in high school I was a geek, but a closet geek. Because back then it wasn’t as hip to talk about my love for the X-men, or debate the finer points of why Lothlorien would be an amazing place to live. Sure we had our fanzines and amongst friends it was perfectly acceptable to geek out, but growing up it wasn’t even hip to be known as “The Brain” let alone the constant new girl. I have also for the most part been a bit of an introvert. I was the girl who climbed trees just to a read a book and had a small group of friends, but I wasn’t popular by any means. My moments of geekiness were at home or relegated to copious amounts of movie quotes interjected into daily conversations. I had my Clash of the Titans lunch box, some fangirl t-shirts and Halloween was my favorite day when I could finally express my nerd love in the form of Wonder Woman or Princess Kneesaa the Ewok. Yep the Ewok. Thankfully I had a brother who let me play with his action figures and who had wars with me as they were far more interesting than playing with Barbies. Granted sometimes my Little Pony may be ridden by a MASK figure or the Transformers may have teamed up with She-Ra to save the world. With my brother I could be a geek.

Of course as I grew older I found various niches in which I could express my geeker joy, but as a girl I always felt like I had to defend my geekiness. Now for those of you who know me, I am a six foot tall girl who is at home in a dress or a skirt as much as she is in jeans and a t-shirt. My home and office are decorated with action figures, comics, and movie posters. I quote stuff a lot. I game every weekend and cannot wait for the new consoles to come out. I love science as much as I do crafting superhero minions. I have a TARDIS at my desk, dabbled in fanfiction including running a play by email BSG game. I go to Cons, read books for fun, and if given the time, energy and money would cosplay to my heart’s content. I am the girl who prefers horror films over romantic comedies, thinks that Bruce Campbell is the man and who is patiently awaiting for the powers to be to continue to make my girly geek pleasantly content. I am a geek. That I cannot deny and would not deny for the world. I can just say it now. With a lot more volume.

Comic by RadRangy
The internet has proven to be a wondrous thing. In college I geeked out over Buffy and found others that loved the show and Joss just as much as I did in the threaded and linear boards. I found my geeks and it was okay to let my fangirl flag fly. I went to Posting Board Parties half way across the country and found a kinship that I hadn’t before. It was awesome. And then I found people who loved comics or read as much as I did, I discovered Dungeons and Dragons (Thank you Jeremy) and rekindled my love for video games. I didn’t hide my love for the X-Files or why Nerf Herder was just a cool band. I found my people and it was glorious. For me I have always found it interesting that when a guy says he is a geek and no one asks him ‘prove it’, but as a woman I have to. When did geek culture become an all-boys club or some exclusive society that I had to pass a test to get into? Men defend their backlash against geek girls saying that we never would have given them the time of day had they professed their geek loves back in high school. You know I wish they had. It would have been great to find someone else who loved Lord of the Rings or who thought Deadpool was badass. It would have been fun to game with some guys on the weekend on not just console...we’re talking D&D kids. But no one asked me. And to this day it still seems as if the 15 year old geek boys never grew up.

Even now that geeks are in, I still get the ‘oh you must be reserving Gears of War for your boyfriend’ or ‘What do you mean you like Hammer horror films’. Oh I don’t know because those are the things that I like. I know these have always been male dominated niches, but the ladies are moving in boys. Deal with it. We geek out as much as you do. I can beat your score in Mass Effect Multiplayer and name the original Avengers (Ant Man and the Wasp). When I wear my Sweet Zombie Jesus necklace you bet I know where that quote came from. I want a vanity license plate that says Allons-y and am re-watching Battlestar Galactica with Hailey.

Being a geek shouldn’t be something that anyone is left out of. We were all there once if you were a geek in school. And even if you are a new geek, welcome to the club. Be passionate about what you love. It doesn’t have to be comics or pop culture related. Be a train geek or an urban fantasy geek, love to LARP or squee over Hitchcock films. Maybe you are an Astronomy geek or a Robot geek. Maybe you love creating your own custom action figures. Who cares. Just love it. And I think that is what is important.

Stop the backlash guys. Get over it. Is there any good reason to keep girls from wanting to become interested in geeky subjects? Don’t do the hipster thing. Don't be exclusive. Find kinship, celebrate with others. Isn’t that the point?  And share.  By Gods, share.  Addict others to all things geeky and then we can rule the world.

Next time we'll discuss the fake girl geek. 

5 comments:

Martin Berman-Gorvine said...

It's great to get the she-geek perspective on this. Speaking as a lifelong he-geek, my theory would be that other he-geeks who claim not to understand that there are she-geeks or who want to exclude them have not gotten past their adolescent hangups. I used to think when I was that age (the American Suburban 1980s) that there was no such thing as a she-geek, but I think in reality the pressures on teenage girls to conform at least outwardly were much stronger than for boys--that is, there was a recognized social category for nerdy intellectual boys but none for girls, so girls with geek hearts were "closeted." As a consolation for the evident lack of she-geeks and the presumption that we had negative sexual attractiveness, we he-geeks cultivated an injured sense of exclusive pride. Some of my fellows have yet to get over it.

Barry Shaffner said...

I get it in many ways. I always seemed to downplay my smarts and the idea that I was a reader and lover of sci-fi and other non-sports related stuff branded me an outsider. even though I was shy to the point of becoming sick trying to ask a girl out, I was best friends mainly with girls.

What joy it would have been to have a girl share Star Trek (all of them) and comics. Someone that could read and love the Odessy and Phantom of the Opera. We could have watched cartoons and stuff, movies like Goonies would have been fun to talk about with a girl.

I guess i still am looking for her. The problem is that we still get pushed away. Some of us are still suffering shyness. I know that there are geek girls. I also am in there corner.

Good post.

Smirking Revenge said...

Martin...welcome btw. :) I Do agree that it wasn't cool to be a nerd. I was supposed to be the cheerleader type or the prom queen as stereotypical and ridiculous as it was. Smart girl? Ummm....no. So I did the cheerleader thing and then realized I was far happier in drama or French honor society...hell even my mock jury team since we didn't have debate. And yet I still didn't let that fangirl flag fly until college because I was still that girl so desperately wanting to fit in. Tired of being the new girl or the odd man out. And maybe I would still be that way if nerd culture wasn't the popular thing right now but Id like to think I have outgrown my teenage Shy Geek and moved on to Smirking Revenge. Bwa ha ha ha. ;)

Smirking Revenge said...

Barry...hello there. :) Ooh we would have had a blast. Goonies never say die!!

I think we all still have those pieces of our 15 year old selves hiding away in our not 15 year old bodies. We don't want the rejection. We just want to be liked and have that approval and no matter how many times I tell myself that I don't need anyone else's ok to be myself...Well 15 year old me still thinks I need it. I really wish she would grow up. ;)

As fierce and smirking as I aim to be I now have new things to deal with such as the ultimate sexy geek girl. I'm cute as a button but when I game it is not with pouty looks or boy shorts. It usually involves rage crying and my pj's. And while yes I'm a girly geek and it is quite wonderful to be myself action figures and all am I too much of a geek? Did I let that flag fly a little too high? Am I cute enough to be a girl nerd?

I don't know if there are any wicked geek dating sites and I don't know if that's your thing. I know I pushed myself into doing new things in the town I live because damnable it is hard to make the love or even dating connection once you've left university and if you're not up to the bar scene or every single friend your friends try to set you up with.

It helps that I worked at a game store for a while and have a geek oriented side business as ive met a lot of people that way. But there are girly geeks out there who wont push you away as cheesy as that sounds. You just have to find her.


Martin Berman-Gorvine said...

I recently unearthed some participant sociology I did in what is now referred to as "middle school" but which was then known as "the Eighth Circle of Hell" or "Eighth Grade," for short. The Geek/anti-Geek dialectic was implicit in it. It's obvious from what I wrote that the cloaking operation of Girls like the future BiblioSnark was a roaring success. http://martianperspective.blogspot.com/2013/03/guest-post-1980s-time-capsule.html#more